Read Back Home by Julia Keller Online


“I guess you would call us a normal family. Once a month, and sometimes other times, too, Dad would be gone for a few days. Mom told us that he was in the National Guard. We were normal, you could say. And then we weren’t.”Rachel “Brownie” Browning is thirteen when her father comes back from the war in Iraq. Of course she understands that he has been injured and that he wi“I guess you would call us a normal family. Once a month, and sometimes other times, too, Dad would be gone for a few days. Mom told us that he was in the National Guard. We were normal, you could say. And then we weren’t.”Rachel “Brownie” Browning is thirteen when her father comes back from the war in Iraq. Of course she understands that he has been injured and that he will be a little different, at least for a while. But Brownie doesn’t even know the man with a prosthetic arm and leg who sits in the living room day after day. He’s certainly not the father who helped her build a fort in her backyard, or played basketball with her sister, or hauled her little brother around like a sack of potatoes. Brownie’s mother says that because of his traumatic brain injury, their father needs their affection and patience. In time, he’ll be better–Dad will be back. But Dad doesn’t seem to be making much progress, or much effort. He doesn’t smile. He doesn’t talk. He won’t even get out of his wheelchair, even though the doctors have taught him how and say that walking is essential to his recovery. And Brownie begins to wonder, will her family ever be able to return to the way life was before the war?A story about an ordinary family forced to deal with an extraordinary loss, Back Home tells the tale of families scarred and the battle just beginning when their wounded loved ones return home....

Title : Back Home
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781606840481
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 208 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Back Home Reviews

  • Madison Saunders
    2019-02-18 05:17

    Rachel Brownie was only thirteen when her father got into a terrible accident in the Iraq war. He had a horrible brain injury that compromised the way his life would be. When Rachel's father was in Iraq, they were doing regular check ups, but there was a line of trucks and humvees that got blown up. Her father was in the worst one. I think this book is great, and it has an important message that we could all learn from. Rachel and her family are upset and confused. They don't quite understand how their father/husband could be fine one day, then the next he's home with a severe head injury. When the hospital brings Rachel's father home, they will not give the Brownie family answers on what happened in Iraq. The Brownie family home, the setting, is upset because they don't have answers. Rachel's mother, Denise, doesn't know what to do. She has to juggle three kids and a brain-injured husband.After they get answers and everyone has gotten used to their "new" father, the Brownie family starts to accept their new life. There's a therapist that comes to the Brownie family house almost every day and works with Rachel's father. I think that the characters, Rachel, Denise, Robbie, and Marcy, should have worked more with their father/husband. Even though they were scared, I think that they should've supported him more, there's only so much a therapist can do and Rachel's father's therapist was not family. They accepted their new lifestyle, but they rarely tried to help. "I was mad about it, even though I didn't know exactly what to be mad at: at all the changes, or at Dad, or at the world in general." Rachel said this in spite of anger and she did not know what to do. Rachel and her father used to do everything together, and now they can't even have a conversation. This goes to show that you don't know what you have until it's gone. Rachel destroys a fort that she and her father made, "Just after Thanksgiving, I went out to the backyard and tore down the fort. I kicked at the sticks that held up the walls, which made the plywood roof collapse, and then I grabbed the plywood sheet with both hands and tried to throw it against the tree. It was too heavy. It just flopped over. The whole thing was a mess now, which satisfied me." Rachel also said this in spite of anger, because she doesn't know who or what she should be mad at. I think this is a substantial book, but be prepared for a pitiful story of the Brownie family. I recommend this book if you like heart-wrenching stories. At the end of the book, Denise makes a tough decision, but I think it truly benefits the Brownie family. The Brownie family is a tough family and they've had to make tough decisions. If you want to know what I'm talking about, then go read "Back Home."

  • Jessica
    2019-02-17 03:08

    ***Spoiler Alert***You might think Rachel Ann Browning lives a normal life. That is not what happens in this book to the Brownie Family. In this book something happens to Rachel's dad! This book is realistic fiction because it can happen to any one in the world but the characters are fiction. I personally liked this book but I you would wanna read it when I finish telling about the book.The setting takes place in the Brownie family home. It wall started when Rachel the oldest, Marcy the middle one and Rob the smallest one heard that their mom needed to talk to them about their dad when he was away at war. Rachel thought her dad had died she kept saying that in her head. Later when they were talking with there mom she told them that their father had gotten in a accident in Iraq. The kids were devastated and Rachel was thinking her family wont ever be the same. Their mom went to go see their father at a hospital and the kids stayed with a babysitter when Christmas was coming and there mom didn't come for Christmas with them. Later a few days after Christmas there mom had come home and told them their dad was coming a few days later. When their Dad came he didn't do nothing and Rachel was felt bad about him and mad because it happended to him. Their dad never did anything he just sat there and therapist came and tried to help him but their dad just sat there all the time and didn't try to do nothing and Rachel was mad at him. This creates the person vs person conflict because she's mad at him because of the accident he had and he doesn't try to do nothing. Days passed and Rachel destroyed the fort she made with her dad when he was ok she told her dad about it but he just kept mimicking her because his brain was damaged. One night Rachel overheard her mother saying that she cant deal with him no more because he wouldn't do anything and just sat there when she went to her job and when she came. So she decided to to put him in a home where they can take care of him because it was hard to take care of him herself. When they took him he came and left and so on and the kids were all devastated again. They went to go see him and saw he was fine Rob had gotten along with his dad a lot they made handshakes. There dad was doing better in the home so they always visited him often. They all loved their father and i think he loved them to.The point of view of this story is 1st because it has words like I in it and me and us. I liked the way the author wrote this book and made you want to know more about it. I think the theme of this book is sympathy because i felt sympathy while reading this book it was sad and interesting at the same time and i was thinking about the families who lost there loved ones during a war and it made me feel sad for them. I can relate to Rachel because my dad had a accident but not that serious like Rachel's father. I would compare this book to the Mocking bird because I think its kind of the same way of writing its about a person's life.I would rate this book from a scale to 1-10 a 8 because it was really good and would make you wanna see what happens next in this story and it was interesting to me. I would recommend this book to anyone really. I liked this book and felt sympathy i hope you read it and feel the same way. Thank You !

  • The Reading Countess
    2019-03-08 02:17

    Thirteen year old Rachel is a typical teenager. Her mom works part time selling real estate, her dad works for the local electricity company, her brother Robbie makes the family laugh with his four year old antics, and eight year old Marcy is a basketball expert. Rachel pals around with her good friend Melanie, and the two of them build a fort together. Rachel's father helps with the roof. But that was all before he left for the war in Iraq.When Rachel's father comes back, all is not as it should be. Her father is not the same person he once was, and her family is unrecognizable to her. Family and friends, while mostly well-meaning, struggle to connect with the family. Will Rachel's life EVER return to normal? And just what DOES a normal family really look like, anyway?Julia Keller, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, has managed to tell a heartbreaking story to middle grade readers in a sensitive but honest manner. Rachel, the narrator, is brutally honest in her feelings about her father and her family. Her honesty was both refreshing and touching. Often, we try to whitewash pain and heartache with young readers. I found Rachel's voice to be strong and would use her as a mentor text with my students in writing characters. Keller is a master storyteller, and I can't wait to share this poignant book with my readers! Back Home is listed as one of the Top 10 Books For Youth by Booklist Online: Passages:"Dr. Vance leaned back. She looked surprised. Mom immediately stood up and went over and sat down on the floor next to Robbie. Shee gathered up all the parts of him in her arms like stray flowers that she'd somehow dropped and needed to put back together right away to restore the most beautiful bouquet in the world." (p. 90)"You can't know about a family unless you're inside that family. Nobody can tell you what it's really like. They can tell you stories and you can look at pictures, but you don't know. Being apart of a family is like being inside one of those snow globes, one of those pretty little things you turn upside down and shake back and forth to get the stuff inside to fall down like snow. You can look out and the people outside can look in, but that's all you can do. Just look. You don't know what it feels like to be on the other side." (p. 177)"I stood in the hall out of sight. Do parents know how much their children see and hear in a house? Not on purpose, but just because we're always around? We move in and out of rooms and we drift through doorways and we slide into hidden spaces. We're smaller than they are, and quicker, too. We see a lot, even if we don't mean to. Even if we don't want to. We pick up stray words here and there. We know shapes and colors. We can measure things with a fast, efficient glance." (p. 181)"When you want to know the future, all you have to do is look at your parents. It's funny: eveybody talks about kids being the future, but that's not how it really is. That's backwards. Your parents are the future. They are where you will be, just down the road. When you see them, you see yourself. Not just what you're going to look like. You can figure out what you'll think about the world, once you get there." (p. 188)

  • Allison Hernandez
    2019-03-19 03:53

    ***Spoiler Alert***"Rachel" and her siblings are in a terrible situation her dad goes to war in Iraq,But something happens to her "dad"!.This book is Realistic Fiction. Everything takes place in Rachel's house with her sister Marcy,and her brother Rob and of course her mom except her dad.Rachel and her sibling are depressed because Their Mom talked to them and told them that their dad had gotten in a serious accident in Iraq.Later on in the story their mom brings home their dad!.When there mom brought home there dad he was not the same like he used to be.There dad would'int do anything at all.Doctors and therapist tried helping there dad.But Rachel was sad and mad at her dad because what happens to him she had her feelings all mixed around .The conflict of the story is person .vs. person because the anger and the sadness that Rachel has for her dad. Days passed and their mother couldn't deal with there father anymore so she took him back to the hospital so they could take care of him,Her mother did this because she was frustrated and it was hard to take care of their dad .When their father went back the kids got more depressed and sad so they went to visit him. They started communicating more and getting closer .I really liked how the author made Rachel express her feelings towards the reader it made you feel like you were part of it.I think that the theme of this story is solicitude and sympathy because while reading the story it would make you feel sorry and sympathy for what was happening in their family.And that it makes you feel sorry for the families that there mom or dad never came back or were in a acident .I rate this book 1 to 5 it would be 4 because its one of those books that you can't stop reading and want to know what comes next .I would of liked that the book would of been longer than it was.I actually will recommend this book to people that like reading Relistic Fiction

  • Evy
    2019-03-10 23:10

    Julia Keller has sparked my imagination in the best ways possible. Here again is an example of a great story kids can relate to, especially if their parents or someone they know is in the military or has/have brain injuries. Here is a book that is, while twisted with adventure and emotion, truly taken to the heart. When Rachel Ann Browning feels sadness, you can feel it too. It bundles up inside you and your heart's in your throat. When she is stressed about life, you can just squeeze your fists together, grimace, and hang your head (or at least, that is what I did in the truly stressful parts of the book). You can't deny a book of feelings, emotion, and mood if you really have a place in there for different types of people.Rachel Ann Browning says that you need a fort to survive. Not that kiddy-type, but a strong, sturdy fort. One that can protect you from things that will hit hard. One that can mask the things you don't want to see. But right when Rachel needs one, her fort is gone.Rachel first hates her name. She gets called Brownie; she is happy. Then comes the news. Her mother explains to her, her sister Marcy and brother Robbie, that their father is coming home. Perhaps this is a good thing, Brownie says, because he has been gone in his National Guard unit for a long time. She kind of misses him, kind of doesn't. But then there is the fact that there was this big explosion that took an arm and a leg, and left him with traumatic brain injury.He never smiles when he does come home. He will never talk to them, or even show the palm of his hand as he used to to say, "Sorry, guys. I'll be OK later." Brownie's mother is getting fussy with him, and Brownie herself cannot bear to stay sane when there was a stranger, nothing like her dad, in the house. Will Brownie's family ever be the same again?

  • Alea
    2019-03-14 07:09

    Back Home was a very emotional, real, and valid book. I'm so surprised I haven't encountered a book dealing with children of people hurt in the Iraqi war. Maybe there are some out there but I haven't encountered them.I found Rachel to be a really insightful narrator. Though she is 13 I was surprised how much she was willing to admit to rather than avoid the truth and make things up. I think she could be a role model for children going through the same situation. It was also nice that she had two younger siblings and we could see what it was like for them to go through, how they all reacted differently.The book really shed some light on traumatic brain injuries and how it may look like someone isn't trying or they don't care, but that's not it at all. Because of their injury their brain isn't sending the right signals to the rest of the body to respond the way it should.Because of her father's condition, slowly her friends begin to lose touch so most of the book is centered around her home life. I think I would have liked to see Rachel outside of her home a little more, maybe in school to really see more of how it impacted her schooling and friendships.I wondered if the book would touch on the sides people take in a war and it did, I think in just the right way. It wasn't really the center of the book but both sides of the fence were talked about. I also really liked how the book didn't shy away from anything and I found the ending to be very realistic.Definitely an interesting and important book!

  • Cathy
    2019-03-17 03:12

    Julia Keller does a good job with this story of a family with the father who has come home from Iraq a double amputee with traumatic brain injury. Back Home is narrated by 13-year-old Rachel, who doesn't recognize the man who returns and who is confused and angry about her dad's inability to interact with the family. She describes the effect on her mother and younger sister and brother. She is also very astute in watching her father and wondering about him. Once when they are all in the kitchen baking and he rolls up to the door, and Rachel sees that her fater sees them as a family, without him, and then after her mom asked him a question, he wheeled himself away.After her father returns home, Rachel evolves. One way she copes is by destroying the fort she and her best friend built years ago. Her father had surprised them by buying plywood for the roof of the porch. Rachel and her sister lose friends, not uncommon among children of soldiers, certainly of wounded veterans. But she has a strong mother who is always honest with all of them or as Rachel says, "Our family didn't have the normal lines or spaces anymore. One person flowed right into the next person and the nextand the next. I guess it sounds like kind of a mess, but it didn't feel that way. It was the way we had to be, so that we could survive."Keller has written extensively on traumatic brain injury for the Chicago Tribune and she uses this knowledge well, but she integrates it into the story. It is not slapped on.

  • Jennifer Wardrip
    2019-03-03 23:02

    Reviewed by hoopsielv for TeensReadToo.comIt should be a joyous time for Rachel, her mom, and her siblings, Marcy and Robbie. Her father is coming home from Iraq. They should be celebrating and creating new memories together as a family.Things will never be the same, though. Her father was injured while overseas. He's lost an arm and a leg and also has some brain damage. He's got to learn most things over again and spends time first at a rehabilitation center before coming home.At first, it doesn't even seem like Dad is home. He just sits there. Rachel knows she must step up and help. She struggles to figure out how. Is Dad really not capable or has he lost the will to try? Will their family always be like this?BACK HOME is a realistic novel about a family trying to pull together and be one during a difficult adjustment. It is full of touching moments. I would strongly recommend this book!

  • Mrs. Tongate
    2019-02-22 04:06

    An informational fiction read for middle school students. Rachel , 13, and her brother and sister experience their father coming home from Iraq with a missing leg & arm, and traumatic brain injury. Will their Dad get better? Will their old Dad ever appear again? You experience the pain with Rachel's family on a serious issue. 31,000+ soldiers are wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan. The reason for the high number of survivors with brain injuries comes from medical technology today. In previous wars they would have died. Now they and their families live with the brain injuries the rest of their lives.Very sad topic that isn't mentioned much on the news each night. US Troups are fighting for our freedom and maybe will never be the same. No one ever states that the 30,000+ soldiers will also need medical help the rest of their lives.

  • Kit
    2019-02-25 23:08

    Julia Keller is a journalist who's written nonfiction stories about the large number of soldiers returning from Iraq with traumatic brain injuries. In some ways, that's a benefit for this book, because the details about the teen protagonist and her family dealing with her father's traumatic brain injury are right on. In other ways, it's not so good. To me, the main character is not developed very much at all; I knew hardly anything about her by the end of the book. Of course, this is a realistic portrayal of how one family member's devastating injury can seem to take over the whole family, but as a story from the daughter's point of view, I didn't feel like it worked as well without her as a real presence in the book. Still, for people who are going through something like this, it will ring very true.

  • Mary
    2019-03-18 02:17

    So much of this book was important and well done I wanted to give it a higher rating but the style was too jarring for me. Most of the book is internal dialogue and it reads like many of us probably think, a trail of thoughts not always relating in a logical pattern. But for a middle grade book I think it is too choppy. The author clearly knows and understands the efects of traumatic brain injury on idividuals and their families. I'm not sure she understands how to write for children, which makes me think it won't be read by as many as it should be. It is an important subject, that publishers seems to shy away from considering how many people in the US are affected by the war in Iraq. So I was disappointed. Just MHO.

  • Les
    2019-03-03 02:59

    What happens when your Dad comes home from Iraq with a traumatic brain injury and missing limbs? A gritty account of a family trying to adapt to their world changing. Mom is gone for weeks while Dad is at Walter Reed. She finally returns home because he isn't ready to leave yet. When he finally comes home he requires total care, and an assortment of therapists and counselors troop through their lives. They have to modify the house to accommodate his wheelchair. Neighbors and relatives are there for them at first, then fade away. As he fails to improve the family has to make tough choices about the future. No magic recovery, no cutesy ending, just the reality of caring for someone who can't help themself.

  • Sofia Sandrea
    2019-02-23 07:00

    Back Home is a beautifully written book about a realistic family situation. Julia Keller focuses on the oldest child, Rachel, and her perspective about her dad coming home from the war, missing and arm and a leg. Back Home tells the story of how Rachel's family deals with the trauma and heartbreak of her dad losing his limbs, and experiencing a traumatic brain injury. Even the therapist Joe can't make Rachel's dad (Ed) smile. How will Rachel get her dad to talk to her again? How will her younger siblings react to seeing their dad, and how will Rachel's mom deal with all the stress? I recommend this book for people who love drama, non-fantasy books, and young adult fiction.

  • Salsabrarian
    2019-03-18 04:20

    This book very effectively describes the changes and conflicting emotions a family goes through when the father returns severely injured from the Iraq War. Rachel's dad is no longer the vibrant man she remembers and his brain injury interferes with his ability to get better. She observes how the change has impacted how the family interacts, and admits to private feelings that give her guilt (being relieved when her father is moved to a care facility, for one). At times, Rachel's observations seem far too wise and experienced for a 13-year-old. Still, the book is very good at exploring the effects of a family tragedy and demonstrating that coping can be a roller coaster.

  • Jenny
    2019-03-07 01:14

    Thirteen year old Rachel Browning understands that her father will be different after being injured in the Iraq War, but no one is prepared for the impact that his tramatic brain injury and other wounds have on the entire family.I had a hard time reading this book the further I got into it. It is told by Rachel and is very sad to first hand see what an impact it had not only on her but in her relationship with her Dad. At parts you wanted to say to her father come on try look what it is doing to your family, only you realize he cannot, he is trapped inside not only a body that does not work the way it once did but a mind as well. I found this a very profound story.

  • Jennifer
    2019-02-23 04:54

    A teenage girl and her family have to deal with a lot of changes once her dad comes back from the Iraq war as an amputee and with post traumatic stress disorder. While this story is pretty sad to read, I think it's a story that needs to be told. I think the author did a good job of showing the emotional reactions of family members and friends to this type of situation. It gave me some ideas of what the stages of grief would look like and what kind of support a family would need. The book also gently touched on some differing opinions on US involvement in that war.

  • Shane
    2019-02-20 04:02

    A novel about a girl's family dealing with her father's disability when he returns to their home after he suffers a traumatic brain injury and loses two limbs while in Iraq. The writing style is a stream-of-consciousness, which may be difficult to follow for some readers. It may also be difficult to read as the reader gets insight into the mind of a girl who, many days, has thoughts about how it might have just been better if her father had died in the war instead of coming back as a shell of his former self.

  • TBML_Teens
    2019-03-02 06:09

    Back Home by Julia Keller is not what I would call a traditional work of fiction. It tells the story of what life is like for a teenage girl and her family when her father comes home from the Iraq war a changed man. Told mostly through a series of anecdotes, the author explores the full range of emotions one may feel when faced with such a life-altering experience. I would recommend this book for the non-sensitive reader and anyone who may have experienced similar circumstances. (YA Fiction Keller) - Leah

  • Christina T
    2019-03-08 06:53

    This book was really tough for me to read. The main character of this book, a girl whose father suffers from a Traumatic Brain Injury that occured in Iraq, is having a hard time dealing with the changes that come with this injury. I would have given this book a 3.5 if the option existed. It really was a great book - well written in the POV of a 13 year old. The subject matter was tough for me being a soldier's wife. But it's the subject matter that drew me to grab this book in the first place.

  • Katie
    2019-02-26 04:16

    I love this book. It fits in with the type of books that I like to read. I like reading about other peoples lifestyles and how they live their everyday life. This particular one girl and her family have to somewhat change their lifestyle to help their dad who is going to have a reality check fast. It kind of motivates me and makes me not want to put the book down when I am reading how this family does what they need to do.

  • SusanDunn
    2019-02-20 23:55

    Met this author and her publisher at ALA last year, and have been meaning to read this book since. Keller got the idea for a story about a family whose father has been severely injured in the Iraq war after she did an article on this same subject. Obviously this book won't be a cheerful read. I found it frustrating b/c it didn't come to any sort of real conclusion at the end. But I guess that's how it is in real life too. Not for everyone, but this book will stick with you.

  • Ali Millam
    2019-03-02 03:02

    This was a very short book about a girl and her family and they experience having their father come back from the IRAQ war alive. But only to find out that so much as changed because even though he is alive he has suffered a traumatic brain injury and lost his arm as well as one of his legs. It's a sad book, you really only ever think about the soldiers that die. Not so much the ones that come back home and how it is for them if they come back.

  • Ashley
    2019-03-15 07:05

    This was a really well written book about a very important topic, but I think it has limited appeal for teens. I don't know if it's something I would recommend for the average reader, as it moves slowly and is about some very serious subject matter. However, for someone who is specifically interested in the subject, I think it's a really good choice.

  • Stacy Ringlein
    2019-02-18 01:03

    Ashley was reading so I picked up and read one night. Pretty good for a 4th grader but Ashley was quick to point out that it did have some bad language. I still think the message of what army families who have a person injured in war has to deal with when they return home was a good message for my daughter.

  • Lisa
    2019-03-15 04:06

    I loved this book from the beginning tell the end. It was such a sad book but you just keeping reading to find out if her dad gets any better or not. Which in this story its just so short that you don't find out what happens. I liked that in away but it always feels like there should be more if your going to be writing a book about something like this.

  • Cynthia
    2019-03-12 06:54

    I can't figure out who this book is for. Pulitzer Prize winner Julia Keller has written an extremely grim book about a father who returns home from Iraq with brain injuries. Intended for middle readers, the tone is so dark and the first person narration so detached, it's hard to imagine middle readers caring enough to finish the story. I, on the other hand, found it fascinating.

  • Toby
    2019-02-17 00:01

    What a shame that we STILL live in a world where we need a children's book about the devastating impact of a father's war injury on his family. I like Julia Keller's book reviews very much but this 13 year old protagonist seems to be too wise beyond her years.

  • Jennifer (Teen Librarian) Beiermann
    2019-03-05 02:12

    I did like this book but not as much as I had hoped. I thought this would be great because it's on a current topic that a lot of books don't deal with. however, it was only ok. I did want to read what happens with the family but i would have like a little more told about them.

  • Laura
    2019-03-15 05:17

    Very well-written, but definitely a Message book, one that I could see appearing on any number of bibliotheraphy lists. And I guess that's why I didn't really warm to it, because I wanted more story and less message.

  • Aisha
    2019-02-23 01:04

    I really loved the book, Back home, because it's an easy read and also really interesting. It's about how Rachel's father came back from war one day and he was totally different from how he used to be. It's also about Rachel's struggles going through all this. I rate this book 4 stars.